[JURIST] A UK human rights group and law firm announced Monday that they will bring legal proceedings [press release] against the British government for sharing intelligence with the US to assist in drone strikes [JURIST news archive] against Pakistan. The London charity Reprieve [advocacy website] and Leigh Day & Co [firm website] will sue Foreign Secretary William Hague at the High Court in London on behalf of Noor Khan [BBC report] whose father was killed in a US drone strike on Pakistan. The accusing parties claim that Britain’s electronic listening agency, GCHQ, may face liability for secondary murder [AP report] by assisting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] in the drone attacks which killed more than 40 people. Leigh Day & Co stated:
Evidence suggests that drone strikes in Pakistan are being carried out in violation of international humanitarian law, because the individuals who are being targeted are not directly participating in hostilities and/or because the force used is neither necessary nor proportionate. This suggests that there is also a significant risk that GCHQ officers may be guilty of conduct ancillary to crimes against humanity and/or war crimes, both of which are statutory offences under the International Criminal Court Act 2001.
UK officials have not commented publicly about the drone attacks in Pakistan.
US targeted strikes on al Qaeda and other terrorist operatives outside Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan have triggered extensive debate [JURIST op-ed] about the lawfulness of such strikes, the strategic effectiveness of drone strikes, the political and diplomatic ramifications, and other questions. In December, as part of its protest, Pakistan has demanded that the US vacate the Shamsi Air Base [JURIST op-ed] within 15 days. It is widely believed that the Shamsi base has been regularly used by the US for drone and associated surveillance flights. In July three Pakistani men filed a complaint [JURIST report] seeking to arrest former CIA legal counsel for authorizing unmanned predator drone strikes. The Obama administration has defended [JURIST report] its use of targeted killings, specifically those made by unmanned predator drone strikes.